Chris D. Meletis, N.D., and Nieske Zabriskie, N.D
Endometriosis is a common gynecologic condition in which endometrial tissue grows in ectopic locations. It is estimated that 5 million women of reproductive age, or 10 percent of women, in the United States, are affected by this disease. 1 Approximately 20 percent of women with chronic pelvic pain and 30–45 percent of women with infertility have endometriosis. 2
Endometrial tissue outside the uterus responds to normal hormonal signaling from estrogen and progesterone. Just as in the uterus, these hormones cause cyclic growth and bleeding of the tissues, often into the peritoneal cavity. Adhesions and inflammation also develop from the accumulation of tissue.
The etiology of endometriosis is still unknown and no current theory explains all the aspects of the disease. However, increasing evidence suggests that environmental estrogenic toxins and the immune dysfunction they cause may be implicated in the etiology and progression of the disease.